About

Learn about Chicago Park District Investor Relations, including Featured News, Key Projects, and Our Team.

parkland
over 8,800 acres
Bond Ratings
AA-/AA+/AA
Bonds Outstanding
$801 million

About Chicago Park District Investor Relations

The Chicago Park District (a/k/a the ‘Garden in the City’) is one of the oldest and largest municipal owned park systems in the world. Many of our parks were originally created or shaped by nationally acclaimed architects, planners, landscape designers, or artists, such as Daniel H. Burnham, Frederick Law Olmsted Sr., Jens Jensen, Alfred Caldwell, and Lorado Taft.

As the steward of a world class park system, we continue to strive to be true to our mission and core values. 


Mission:

  1. Enhance the quality of life in Chicago by becoming the leading provider of recreation and leisure opportunities
  2. Provide safe, inviting and beautifully maintained parks and facilities
  3. Create a customer-focused and responsive park system that prioritizes the needs of children and families

Core Values:

Children First

Our most important task is to bring children and families into our parks and give them great reasons to stay and play for a lifetime.  We work to make the Park District the first choice of parents and children for the best in programs, events, camps and daily leisure activities.  We target key segments of Chicago’s youth population and develop opportunities that align with their preferences and priorities.  We develop exciting choices for classes and program and make it easy to enroll in them.  We give every child a reason and an opportunity to play in the parks.

Best Deal in Town

We prioritize quality in our programs and accountability in our fiscal management to provide excellent and affordable recreation that invites everyone to come out and play.  To provide the best value in recreation, we work diligently to balance expenses with revenues.  Thanks to prudent financial management over the years, we remain on solid financial ground.  To maintain long-term stability, we continue to find innovative and appropriate ways to bring in new revenue while making thoughtful investments and carefully managing our costs.  Our goal is to maintain high quality of our programs and events while making them as affordable as possible.

Built to Last

We use our capital to renew our aging infrastructure and leverage partnerships that produce new parks and facilities that are forward-thinking and world class.  We have inherited a world class park system that has served generations of Chicagoans.  We are stewards of treasures that take the form of landscapes, buildings, sculptures and parks.  We must also maintain and expand our holdings to meet the current and future recreation needs of our customers.  To balance these challenges, we strategically invest our limited capital resources and leverage partnerships and alternative sources of funds to do more with less.  In doing so, we will honor our inheritance and build for the next generation.

Extra Effort

We support innovation and welcome new ideas. We believe that professionalism, communication, technology, and team work serve as the foundation for great customer service and a productive workplace.  We do everything possible to make the Park District better for tomorrow than it is today.  We implement new ideas and technologies and make program delivery more effective.  We invest in our employees and provide training and the tools they need to get the job done.  We open new lines of communication between our customers and each other.  And we work as a team as we build toward a new future together.

The Chicago Park District (Park District) encompasses more than 8,800 acres of open space, totaling 598 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, 11 private cultural institutions (e.g., The Art Institute of Chicago and The Field Museum, among others), 31 beaches, 10 harbors with a capacity of over 6,000 boat slips and moorings, historic lagoons, 10 bird and wildlife gardens, thousands of special events, sports and entertaining programs. In addition, the Park District operates a large number of recreational and cultural facilities, including Northerly Island, Lincoln Park and Garfield Park Conservatories, Buckingham Fountain and the South Shore Cultural Center.  Other properties of the Park District, which are privately managed, include McFetridge Sports Center, Lincoln Park Zoological Gardens, Theater on the Lake, Soldier Field (home of the Chicago Bears) and our harbor system.

The Park District is a special district governed by the Chicago Park District Act and other applicable Illinois statutes.   We are an independent government and taxing authority that is coterminous with the City of Chicago. The Park District’s General Superintendent & CEO, Michael P. Kelly, is appointed by the Mayor of Chicago and confirmed by the Board of Commissioners. The Park District's headquarters are located in the Streeterville neighborhood near Chicago’s lakefront.

The Park District, along with our partners, provides a diverse array of organized activities to residents with a particular focus on youth.  In 2016, over 45 million participants took advantage of Park District facilities with over 375,000 directly enrolled in nearly 25,000 programs comprising an estimated 714,000 hours of programming including sports, aquatics, camps, concerts, theater and other activities.  The 45 million in participants includes those attending events at Soldier Field, playing a round of golf at one of our courses, utilizing the Lakefront Trail or visiting one of the Museums in The Parks. Our total usage estimate increased by an estimated 6% between 2015 and 2016. Among the programming venues, McFetridge Sports Complex features ice skating and tennis with over 10,000 registrants in 2016 and Peterson Park Gymnastics Center provided gymnastics lessons to 5,700 registrants.  The Park District operates summer day camps throughout the City with registrations of nearly 46,000 in 2016 while providing swimming-lessons through its Learn to Swim program to over 20,000 registrants.   The Park District’s current fall session enrollment is approximately 82,000 with an end projection of 105,000 to 110,000.

On October 14, 2014, the Park District was awarded the 2014 National Gold Medal for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, presented by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA).   Founded in 1965, the Gold Medal Awards program honors communities in the U.S. that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition.  The Park District has received this national recognition as a result of NRPA’s determination that the Park District embodies the core values of the NRPA, including conservation, social equity, health and wellness.

Key Projects

Chicago Park District Breaks Ground on New Year-Round Theater

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Superintendent Michael P. Kelly, Alderman Michele Smith, and members of the Lincoln Park and theater communities today broke ground on the new Theater on the Lake year-round cultural facility, located at Fullerton Avenue and Lake Shore Drive.

“Theater on the Lake is a community treasure that has entertained Chicago residents and visitors during the summer months for more than six decades,” Mayor Emanuel said. “This new venue will provide access to Chicago’s rich cultural scene at a fraction of the cost all year long.”

The building, just steps from Lake Michigan, will undergo a $6 million facelift to be funded by Lakefront Hospitality Group. The Group’s proposal to remodel, renovate and operate the one-of-a-kind entertainment and cultural venue was in response to a concession Notice of Availability that was advertised in December of 2015.  

Theater on the Lake’s new redesign will preserve the historical aesthetics of the loft-like structure, while incorporating modern elements to transform it into a multi-use, year-round venue.  The structure will be divided into three sections: a new 330-seat main theater with new lighting, sound system, green rooms and dressing rooms, two-adjacent event spaces with access to a lakefront terrace, and a public restaurant furnished with a kitchen and a semicircular outdoor patio with a breathtaking vista of the city skyline.

“Improvements to Theater on the Lake will dramatically heighten the amazing production quality of this unique performance space and expand our capacity to offer professional world-class theatre, as part of the yearlong Night Out in the Park initiative, to our patrons from a year-round location,” said Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO Michael P. Kelly. “The building’s new amenities allow us to accommodate patrons who just want to relax, while catering to guests celebrating a special occasion or enjoying a casual dining experience along the lake.”

The project is part of the Mayor’s commitment to elevate and expand cultural assets and reinvigorate arts programming in Chicago’s neighborhoods, as called for in the Chicago Cultural Plan; as well as his Building on Burnham vision of maintaining public access to green spaces along the lakefront for the purpose of promoting recreation and leisure activities. 

The renovations come on the heels of the completion of the Fullerton Revetment project earlier this year. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' shoreline protection project at Fullerton Avenue Beach added approximately 5.8 acres of park space to the area neighboring the Theater on the Lake building.

Renovations are expected to be complete in summer 2017.

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Big Marsh Bike Park opens

Carved in part out of an industrial wasteland on the Southeast Side, the bike park has just about everything a cyclist could want: zigzagging dirt tracks, wooden ramps, stairs and sand pits, for everyone from kids to cyclo-cross competitors to BMX pros. The park is planning to host races — its first is later this month, on Black Friday — and has a goal in the next five years of staging the U.S. championship in cyclo-cross, an off-road cycling sport growing in popularity.

The bike park is situated in South Deering, less than a half-hour from downtown, and provides respite from city life. No cars honking. No skyscrapers. The remaining area of the 278-acre site is undergoing habitat restoration with birds returning, including a pair of yellow-headed blackbirds, a species that has not been seen at Big Marsh for more than 20 years, according to the Chicago Park District.

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Chicago Park District Break Ground on new Wheel-Friendly Area in Grant Park

Chicago First Lady Amy Rule, Chicago Park District General Superintendent Michael Kelly, Alderman Will Burns and community members today broke ground today on the new wheel-friendly area in Grant Park.

The new facility, located on Michigan Avenue between Roosevelt Road and the 11th Street Bridge, will replace the temporary skateboard park that was constructed in 2006 to address the overwhelming demand for a wheel-friendly area within the City’s front yard.

The new wheel friendly area designed for skateboarding, scooters, roller blades and BMX bikes is part of the Grant Park Expansion. Other features of the 1.86 acre parcel, located at the southwest corner of Grant Park, will include a multi-layered, patterned and colored concrete skate elements, granite benches, an observation deck, new storm water with natural detention areas, concrete walks, planters, extensive pedestrian lighting, drinking fountain, fencing and landscaping. Outdoor event and art exhibition space will also be included in the Grant Park Expansion. The project is expected to be completed in December.

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'Adult Playground' Makes Chicago Debut In Burnham Park

The Chicago Park District made it official Thursday with the opening of the Burnham Park Outdoor Fitness Station, a small jungle gym aimed at exercise buffs on the Near South Side.

Standing inches from the Lakefront Trail at 39th Street, the structure looks like an austere, scaled-back version of an elementary school play lot. Instead of a see-saw, it has incline benches. In place of a slide, there's a rope climb.

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